Internationally Recognized Scientist at Age 15, with Help from Trent University


A Trent University professor provided major support and world-class facilities to a scientist not yet of university age

Friday, June 17, 2011, Peterborough

Trent University geography professor Dr. Cheryl McKenna Neuman provided major support and world-class facilities to Lauren Reid, a distinguished young scientist whose science-fair project won international acclaim and whose research will, no doubt, make a positive impact on the planet.

A grade-nine student from Uxbridge, Ontario, Ms. Reid won the Silver Medal in Environmental Innovation for her science-fair project “Stagnation Point Para Foil” at the Canada-Wide Science Fair held at Trent University in 2010. After connecting with Professor McKenna Neuman to further her research, Ms. Reid went on to win two first-place prizes at the 2011 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair competition in Los Angeles.
As a student at O’Neill Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Oshawa, Ms. Reid developed the research project that designed modifications to a wind-turbine blade to permit it to cut-in and generate electricity at low wind speeds. “There are over 90,000 wind turbines in the world and yet they are idle 65 to 80 per cent of the time,” explained Ms. Reid. “I wanted to do something to change this - to make wind turbines operate most of the time - because they are a great way to get clean electricity that our growing population needs.”
"Mentorship is extremely important in supporting and encouraging young women to consider a career in science,” said Professor McKenna Neuman. “In the early days of my academic training, there were few female role models working in academia in the earth sciences, and none in the programs in which I trained.”

Ms. Reid used Trent University’s wind tunnel equipped with a laser Doppler anemometer to measure the speed and direction of the airflow at many specific points around her test blades. She worked with the data produced from this anemometer that was provided in detailed spreadsheets and vector plots.

“The most rewarding aspect of my project has to be the fact that it works,” said Ms. Reid. “I was able to lower the cut-in wind speed of a wind turbine by 75 per cent, and designed a model that can turn at a wind speed of only 3.5 km/h compared to 14 km/h for most wind turbines to rotate.”

At the international competition, Ms. Reid took first-place honours in the GE Energy category as well as first place in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots category, earning $3,500 in prize money. One company approached Ms. Reid and asked to review her blade modifications, recommending that she patent her innovations as quickly as possible, which she and her father are currently doing.

Sending a special thank-you to Dr. McKenna-Neuman and her team at Trent, Ms. Reid said, “Dr. McKenna-Neuman gave me an opportunity to work with incredible equipment and amazing, talented and very friendly people. Without Trent, it would have been impossible for me to duplicate this research, especially with the same precision. Trent made a huge impact on my research project and I will be forever thankful to Dr. McKenna-Neuman and Steve.”

The Trent University community supports Canada-Wide Science Fair participants through a variety of means, such as mentorship and assistance with research requiring additional supervision. The 2010 Canada-Wide Science Fair was held at Trent University and the next Peterborough Regional Science Fair will be held at Trent in April 2012.

One of Canada's top universities, Trent University is renowned for striking a unique balance between outstanding teaching and leading-edge research and is committed to strengthening community engagement. The University is consistently recognized nationally for faculty who maintain a high level of innovative research activity and a deep commitment to the individual student. Trent’s Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Resource Science (ERS) has become the first university program to be officially accredited to the National Standard of Environmental Programs in Canada by the Canadian Environmental Accreditation Commission (CEAC) of the Environmental Careers Organization (ECO) Canada.


For more information, or to arrange an interview with Lauren Reid, please contact: Dennis Reid, 416-999 6700,

To speak with Cheryl McKenna Neuman, please call: 705-748-1011 ext. 7307,